cover image Patriot


Gary Hart. Free Press, $21 (208pp) ISBN 978-0-684-82751-3

Using the model of Machiavelli's The Prince, Hart, a former Colorado Democratic senator who has long been active in national politics, has constructed a work that offers advice to an unnamed American ""patriot""--an aspiring younger politician--on ways to revitalize our nation. The Italian political philosopher, who said he wrote about men as they are, not as they should be, was certainly no idealist, so it seems paradoxical that Hart should invite a comparison. For Machiavelli, politics and ethics had nothing to do with each other, while Hart's politics are profoundly ethical. Nonetheless, this book abounds in insights (Nixon was ""uncertain of his presence even in his own skin"") and contains an impressive analysis of our national malaise. What Hart wants is ""liberal nationalism"" under a leader who has purity of heart, an expansive spirit and a great soul; he urges that we make a start toward that goal by driving out the ""barbarians"" who ""corrode the spirit of national unity and civility,"" just as Machiavelli urged Cesare Borgia to drive barbarians out of the Italy of the Renaissance. A thoughtful work, perhaps too idealistic for our time. (June)